They were the ones surrounded by all the others. They always seemed to have a witty reply at the ready. Their hair and clothes always fit with the latest fashions. They were always great looking with 'perfect' bodies. They were the Captain of the Football Team or the Class President or the Homecoming Queen. They ruled the world.
As the years passed, the idea that I didn't fit grew more and more solidified in my mind and heart. Not much had changed, I was still looking in from the outside. I still recall what it was like to wonder what I could do to make myself welcome in those 'in' crowds.
Recently I was swapping stories with a dear, beautiful friend of mine (she's one that I see as 'popular') when she told me that she thinks of me as a magnetizing person of the sort who draws people. She went on and said that she thought of me as 'the life of the party, POPULAR, loved'.
I was taken aback. That is NOT how I see myself at all. In fact, I still see myself much the same as I did in the past. I often feel like the odd one out. I often feel like everyone else looks better than I do, gets invited to more things than I do, has a better sense of fashion than I do, has a quicker wit than I do. My perception is that I'm still on the outside, looking in.
I mentioned our exchange to my husband and his response was immediate. 'Well you can see that she's right though, can't you?' It was completely obvious to him. I had to stop and think about it.
Yes, I suppose I have grown into a more 'popular' sort of person. Though attaching the word 'popular' to myself feels like a poor fit. In fact, there is even a niggling sense of guilt in admitting that I might be well-liked, as though I really ought to stay on the side-lines, you know, if I truly understood my place in the world.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that someone reading this is tracking with me. I'm going to assume that you are asking yourself the same questions I have been asking myself.
What the heck is this all about anyway!!??
I'm sure that my answer won't be complete, but here are at least a few thoughts that have crossed my mind.
- Was I actually excluded as a child? Was that the reality, or just my perception?
- How often do I end up with a distorted view of my situation today?
- Is the primary reason for these perceptions due to a lie being told me by the ultimate Liar, Satan?
- How do I get my head wrapped around the reality of my acceptance in society?
I'm not sure how to answer question number one since time has passed and it'd be difficult to accurately assess the reality of my youthful perceptions, but it's an interesting thing to consider. Question #2 could be answered by asking people around me to help me assess what's going on, though it may be difficult to be certain since not everyone will answer forthrightly. Question #3 seems like perhaps a given, at least on some level. That leaves me with question #4 and I think this is the most important one of all.
How do I get my head wrapped around the reality of my acceptance or lack of it in society? The answer lies in finding my identity in Christ.
If I want to know who I am, I must first go to the One who made me, who purposed me and who walks daily with me in the kind of relationship which fully understands me. Much of 'feeling out of place' occurs when we don't feel accepted or understood.
However, when we know, not just in our heads, but in our hearts that Jesus accepts us just as we are AND understands everything about us, that allows us to relax when we are in company. It no longer matters so much what someone else thinks because we know that He who matters most is in love with us.
Here's the interesting result of that, we become more likable as a result! It is much easier to enjoy the company of a person who is comfortable in their own skin than it is to feel at ease with a person who is ill-at-ease with themselves. When we are uncomfortable with ourselves, we create work for the people around us as they need to reassure us of our worth(believe me, I know as I've required a HUGE amount of reassurance from loving people around me over the years and, MAN am I thankful for them!). Or.......and this is often the experience of those who are insecure, we get singled out for mockery, since we make an easy target.
Think about that, how many confident people get picked on? If you can remember what it was like in school, it was always those who cowered that got treated badly.
Here's the thing, if you don't already feel confident about yourself, reading a few bible verses isn't going to solve that. We need more than that alone to come to a place of having a right view of ourselves. (Romans 12:3) If we wrestle with our identity in Christ, we need to take that issue to Jesus and ask Him to show us who we are and then we need to listen to His voice speaking to our hearts that truth. That will change our lives more than any other thing. The bible verses will give us the foundation, but Jesus speaking truth to the depths of our souls is what will bring healing and confident humility.
That said, I'm going to leave you with a link with a few verses that will give you the biblical foundation you need to get started understanding who you are IN CHRIST. But it'll be up to you to speak to the Holy Spirit about how that is reality for you personally.